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Thyroplasty

Thyroplasty is a procedure performed to change the position of the vocal cord. This is usually performed to improve a patient’s voice and ability to cough.

Thyroplasty is performed in the operating room with the patient asleep during parts of the surgery. A small cut is made on the neck and the voice box is identified. Through a small hole made in the voice box a Gore-Tex implant is placed to move the vocal cord into the proper position. During the surgery the patient is awoken and asked to speak in an effort to “fine tune” the voice box.

Patients typically stay one night in the hospital after surgery.

Risks of surgery include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain – Soreness in the neck is common after surgery.
  • Hoarseness – Worsening of the voice may occur in rare circumstances.
  • Infection – This is very uncommon and is treated with antibiotics or surgery in rare cases.
  • Difficulty swallowing – While rare, this may be temporary or permanent.
  • Bleeding - The chance of bleeding is rare, and bleeding typically stops on its own.
  • Numbness of the skin and neck usually return to normal within a few months but can be permanent.
  • Difficulty breathing – This can occur due to swelling after surgery. When severe this requires immediate attention.
  • Risks of anesthesia are very rare, but include stroke, heart attack, and death. 

Instructions after surgery:

  • You will be observed overnight to monitor the incision, provide antibiotics, and ensure that you do not have trouble breathing.
  • You will wake up with a bandage around your neck. Please do not manipulate the bandage. 
  • It is OK and encouraged to get out of bed the night of the surgery. You may walk with assistance and use the bathroom normally. 
  • Voice rest – For the first three days after surgery (including the day of surgery) do not use your voice. This means no talking, whispering, or laughing. Avoid coughing if possible. To communicate please have ready a whiteboard with marker and eraser, a pad of paper, or a phone/computer for texting and emailing. After three days moderate voice use is OK. This means no excessive talking, yelling, or phone use. After a week normal voice use is OK.
  • Diet – Start with liquids and proceed to a normal diet as tolerated.

The day after surgery a physician remove the bandages. If everything looks OK you will be discharged home.

  • Medication – Pain medicine will be given to you. It should be taken as directed. Side effects may include drowsiness, or nausea and vomiting. Occasionally patients become constipated with this medication. If this occurs, over the counter Colace can be taken.
  • Incision care – You will notice small band-aid like stickers on the skin. It is important to leave these alone. Do not wet the neck for three days after surgery. After this you may allow a small amount of water on the neck during shower. After about one week the bandages will begin to fall off on their own. This is OK. You may cut off any portion of the bandage that no longer sticks to the skin.
  • If the neck becomes swollen, red, or tender please call the physician immediately. 
  • For the first two weeks after surgery please do not exert yourself by running or lifting objects over 15 pounds. Walking is OK during this time.

If shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, bleeding, or a fever occurs it is important to visit the emergency room or call 9-1-1 to be transported.

Follow up – The first visit is in our office one week after surgery.